By Bob Elliott
ARLINGTON, Tex. _ Sam Dyson pounded his right hand into his glove walking off the Rogers Centre mound.
Nearing the first-base line the Texas Rangers reliever turned and glared into the Blue Jays dugout after getting the final out of the eighth inning on Friday.
You could almost hear Toby Keith’s hit “How do you like me now?” in the background.
Dyson, the former Blue Jay, had walked the high wire in front of the sold out crowd keeping the score tied 4-4 in Game 2 of the best-of-five, American League Division Series.
Ben Revere led off with a comebacker which Dyson muffed and now the right-hander had to face Mount Crushmore.
Josh Donaldson broke his bat lining the first pitch to short and Revere stole second on the next pitch.
Jose Bautista fanned on an 0-2 pitch, Texas manager Jeff Banister had Edwin Encanracion walked intentionally. Then Troy Tulowitzki bounced to second and Dyson went for his triumphant walk.
When Dyson made his Rogers Centre debut on July 6, 2012, manager John Farrell said Dyson “may have the best stuff in the entire organization.”
This statement was made despite the fact ... he didn’t throw a pitch in 2011, pitched 28 2/3 innings at class-A Dunedin and 24 at double-A New Hampshire in 2012 before his promotion and only appeared on Farrell’s radar a month before the manager was put him into a game.
Players asked that night, “what’s the name of the new guy?”
The answer was: “never heard of him.”
The Blue Jays know Dyson now. He’s faced nine batters, walked two (one intentionally) allowed Revere’s infield hit in two scoreless innings picking up the save in Game 1.
Tom Signore has been credited with giving Dyson his bowling-ball sinker before his promotion in 2012.
“Sam had all the ability in the world, all I did was change his grip a little,” said Signore from New York City, where he had just arrived to see Monday’s Game 3 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets in the National League DS.
Signore was a pitching coach in the Mets system and was at triple-A Tacoma-Las Vegas game during a rain delay when an errant throw struck him above his right temple. He has had concussion-like symptoms ever since.
“I moved the ball maybe a quarter turn, his middle finger kept getting in the way,” said Signore. “Now, he’s learned to throw it to both sides, to throw it for a strike, to throw it when he wants guys to chase.”
Dyson had trouble judging his new sinker.
“He got real good at locking up left-handed hitters, he’s throw it at their hip and they’ve give up on it,” said Signore.
The first of former Jays scouting director Andrew Tinnish’s selections to make the majors, Dyson was a fourth-round pick from the South Carolina Gamecocks. And he’s the tip of the draft ice berg from 2010 class which includes major leaguers Aaron Sanchez (first, 34th over-all), Noah Syndergaard (1st, 38th), Asher Wojciechowski (1st, 41st), Justin Nicolino (second), Sean Nolin (sixth), Dalton Pompey (16th) and Dyson.
Their first pick that year right-hander Deck McGuire? Still, hasn’t made it yet, spending time in the Los Angeles Dodgers system this year with nine starts at triple-A Oklahoma City.
At Dunedin Dyson played with 12 majors leaguers including current Jays Kevin Pillar and Ryan Tepera.
Aaron Loup, Drew Hutchison and Chad Jenkins were teammates at New Hampshire.
When the Jays signed free agent Mark De Rosa, Jan. 30, 2013, they had to clear a roster spot and Dyson was claimed by Miami Marlins. And he was there until the July 31 deadline when the Rangers added him for Cody Ege and Tomas Telis.
In his two months with the Rangers, Dyson was 2-1 with a 1.15 ERA, walking four and striking out 30 in 31 1/3 innings.
Jays area scout John Hendricks liked Dyson, a medical red shirt with South Carolina, leading into the 2010 draft. Dyson had had multiple surgeries on both shoulders and nerve injury to his right elbow. The Jays knew it was a gamble drafting Dyson. There could be further surgery.
Tinnish was watching instructional ball in 2010 at Dunedin when Dyson walked off the mound with pain in his right elbow. He had Tommy John surgery that October, did not pitch until the spring of 2012.
He’s back and has played a large role in the Rangers winning the first two games.
Jays Talk: The highlight of Jays Talk after Game 1 of the ALDS post-game show was a caller who asked Mike Wilner: “Shouldn’t David Price have come out in the third or fourth and then they should have gone to “Stroneham” (Marcus Stroman) out of the bullpen?”